Retro Gadgets: The Real Desktop Computer


The NOVAL 760, a lesser-known contender in the history of computing, took center stage in a 1977 Byte magazine ad. Priced at $2995, it was a computer encased within an elegant wooden desk that could be folded down to conceal the machine, showcasing a distinctive blend of aesthetics and functionality. The 8080 processor-powered NOVAL 760 offered 16 kB of RAM, 3 kB of PROM, and an array of I/O devices. Notably absent was a disk drive, but the system featured an audio tone generator, paper tape reader, and film reader.

The advertisement highlighted its adaptability for both business and gaming, touting dual hand-held keyboards for competitive play. The TELEMATH game engaged two players in solving math problems, while games from Gremlin Industries, eventually acquired by Sega, were also featured. The NOVAL 760’s interactive assembler provided real-time error checking, emblematic of the era’s focus on software’s importance.

Despite its relative obscurity, the NOVAL 760 offers a unique snapshot of the late 1970s computing landscape. It encapsulated the period’s attempts to merge technology with design and functionality, serving as a testament to the evolving nature of personal computing and its place in history.

Needing some retro aesthetics in your life then have a look at how to make a working 3D printed mini Macintosh and maybe spoil yourself a bit with a sleek laser cut designed keyboard to go with it using your very own Falcon Lazer.

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